Delaware Lawmakers Fail To Override Veto of Weed Legalization Bill

The Delaware House of Representatives failed on Tuesday to override a veto of a bill to legalize possession of small amounts of pot, likely dashing hopes for meaningful cannabis reform in the state for the rest of the year. Members of the House voted 20-20 in the bid to override the veto, failing to reach the three-fifths majority required for success.

House Bill 371 from Democratic Representative Ed Osienski would have legalized possession of up to one ounce of weed by adults. Osienski introduced the bill and another measure to establish a regulated cannabis industry in April after a more comprehensive proposal to legalize cannabis possession and commerce failed earlier this year.

Osienski has said that the bill to regulate recreational production and sales, House Bill 372, would create good jobs “while striking a blow against the criminal element which profits from the thriving illegal market for marijuana in our state.” But the measure failed in the House last month despite being favored in the vote 24-14, but failing to reach the 60% supermajority required because the bill includes a 15% tax on cannabis sales.

HB 371 fared better, passing in the House by a vote of 26-14 on May 5. A week later, the Delaware Senate approved the measure by a vote of 13-7, sending the bill to Democratic Governor John Carney for his consideration. But on May 24, Carney vetoed the bill, citing concerns about safety and the economic impact of legalizing recreational cannabis.

“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state of Delaware, especially our young people,” Carney said in his message vetoing HB 371. “Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”

Veto Override Attempt Fails in Delaware

Lawmakers got the chance to override Carney’s veto with Tuesday’s vote but failed to reach the threshold necessary. Five representatives in the House, three Democrats and two Republicans, who voted in favor of the bill originally changed their votes for the veto override attempt. Democratic House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst voted for the bill in May but did not cast a vote in the override bid, despite being present in the chamber.

Following Tuesday’s unsuccessful veto override vote, Osienski said on the House floor that he was proud he had “been fighting for something that such a large majority of Delawareans wanted.”

“It’s kind of what I feel they sent me down there to do, and I am appreciative of all the work I’ve done with my colleagues,” he said. “But most of all,” he added, his voice breaking. “I feel good that I was working for Delaware.”

Cannabis activists, about 100 of whom rallied at the state capitol in Dover to encourage lawmakers to override Carney’s veto, were disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

Efforts to legalize cannabis in Delaware are “over, in my opinion,” said Brian Warnock, who waited after the rally to witness the outcome of the vote. “It’s especially disappointing because [Carney’s] a Democrat. This was a Democratic bill.”

“The only thing that’s going to happen,” he added, “is everybody’s going to get on the ferry and go over to New Jersey. It’s not going to stop anybody from getting pot. It’s just going to cost us millions of dollars.”

Longtime cannabis activist Mason Tvert, a partner at cannabis policy firm VS Strategies, said that the defeat of HB 371 maintains the failed status quo of cannabis prohibition.

“It’s stunning to see such a sensible, broadly supported policy proposal derailed by a governor’s veto and a handful of lawmakers’ unwillingness to stand up to him,” Tvert wrote in an email to High Times. “This will not prevent adults in Delaware from accessing cannabis; it just ensures that cannabis will be purchased in other states or in the illegal market. It is a shame that adults in Delaware will continue to be treated like criminals simply for consuming a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

Osienski said that Carney’s opposition to legalization comes despite data that show 61% of the state’s voters are in favor of reform.

“The governor has made it clear he wishes us to wait until 2025, but the majority of Delawareans don’t agree,” he said.

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Delaware Governor, A Democrat, Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill

Saying that “promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state,” Delaware Governor John Carney has vetoed a bill that would have legalized cannabis for adults aged 21 and older.

Carney, a second-term Democrat, detailed his opposition to House Bill 371, which Delaware lawmakers passed earlier this month, in a veto announcement on Tuesday.

“House Bill No. 371 would, among other things, remove all penalties for possession by a person 21 years of age or older of one ounce or less of marijuana and ensure that there are no criminal or civil penalties for transfers without remuneration of one ounce or less of marijuana between persons who are 21 years of age or older,” Carney explained, before drawing a distinction between his position on medicinal cannabis and recreational pot use.

“I recognize the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions, and for that reason, I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware,” he said. “I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana—and today, thanks to Delaware’s decriminalization law, they are not.”

“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state of Delaware, especially our young people,” the governor continued. “Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”

The bill now returns to the state’s General Assembly, where Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.

The Delaware News Journal reported that the legislation would “need to receive a three-fifths vote in each chamber to override the veto,” a threshold that the initial vote passed.

But the outlet also noted that it “is incredibly rare for the Delaware General Assembly to override a governor’s veto,” with the last successful override coming in 1977.

The veto is particularly frustrating, given the Democrats’ control of the Delaware state government. Large majorities of Democratic voters nationwide support cannabis legalization, a position that is fast becoming a consensus among the party’s elected officials, as well.

But Carney has long voiced his opposition to recreational pot use.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Carney said in an interview last year. “If you talk to the parents of some of these folks that have overdosed and passed away they don’t think it’s a good idea because they remember the trajectory of their own sons and daughters.“

For pro-legalization lawmakers in Delaware, getting the bill passed and on Carney’s desk proved challenging. In March, a legalization bill in the state House won the support of a majority of members, but it fell short of the three-fifths threshold necessary for a tax bill to be approved.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic state House Rep. Ed Osienski, noted the state’s “unique” status, saying that Delaware “is the only state in the country with a Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled legislature that has not approved legalization.”

Osienski and his fellow lawmakers produced a revised bill that passed both the state Senate and state House earlier this month.

But on Tuesday, the bill hit a wall in the form of the governor’s veto power.

“I respect the Legislative Branch’s role in this process, and I understand that some hold a different view on this issue. However, I have been clear about my position since before I took office, and I have articulated my concerns many times,” Carney said in his statement. “For the reasons stated above, I am hereby vetoing HB 371 by returning it to the House of Representatives without my signature.”

The post Delaware Governor, A Democrat, Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Delaware House Passes Historic Cannabis Legalization Bill

Members of the Delaware state House on Thursday passed legislation that would eliminate all penalties for adults aged 21 and older having up to an ounce of weed in their possession, a move that local media is describing as “a historic first step” toward cannabis legalization in the state.

Lawmakers in the chamber passed the bill early in the evening “with a vote of 26-14, which included bipartisan support from Republican Representatives Michael Smith of Pike Creek and Jeffrey Spiegelman of Clayton,” according to the Delaware News Journal.

The bill’s passage on Thursday comes nearly two months after a separate legalization measure failed to make it out of the Delaware House, where Democrats hold the majority. 

Lawmakers in the House voted for that bill 23-14, but as the Associated Press noted at the time, “it required a three-fifths majority of 25 votes.”

That bill would have legalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults aged 21 and older, and would have established a state-regulated cannabis industry. 

After the bill fell short in March, lawmakers went back to the drawing board and decided to separate the main components of the bill—the legalization of possession and the creation of a market—into two separate pieces of legislation. 

As the Delaware News Journal reported, “there are some early signs that [splitting the measures into two bills] could be a successful approach.” 

According to Delaware public radio station WHYY, the bill dealing with cannabis regulation and taxes “has cleared a House committee but no vote has been scheduled yet,” although the station indicated that the vote “is expected in the coming weeks.”

The bill pertaining to possession now heads to the state Senate, where Democrats also hold the majority. 

According to WHYY, “Representative Ed Osienski, the lead House sponsor, predicts the bill will pass the Senate.” 

Osienski was also the sponsor of the larger cannabis bill, HB 305, that failed to make it out of the House earlier this session, which prompted him to split the measure into two.

“HB 305 had the whole regulatory system in there for the industry of cultivating, manufacturing, and selling marijuana in the state of Delaware and it had a tax on it, which meant it would require 25 [votes], which is a hard threshold to meet,” Osienski said last month. “I figured, at least we can move forward with legalization with a simple majority of 21. I do have 21 House co-sponsors on the bill, so I think I’m pretty fairly confident that, unless something dramatically changes, that will pass and end prohibition.”

But even if either of the bills make it out of the legislature, there is no guarantee that they will be signed into law.

The state’s Democratic governor, John Carney, has made it clear previously that he is no fan of cannabis legalization.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Carney told Delaware Public Media last year. 

“If you talk to the parents of some of these folks that have overdosed and passed away they don’t think it’s a good idea because they remember the trajectory of their own sons and daughters,” he continued. “And I’m not suggesting that that’s always a gateway for all that, but if you talk to those Attack Addiction advocates they don’t think it’s a very good idea.”

“As I look at other states that have it, it just doesn’t seem to me to be a very positive thing from the strength of the community, of the economy in their states,” Carney said. “Is it the worst thing in the world? No, of course not.”

The cannabis possession bill that passed the House on Thursday might have enough support to overcome Carney’s opposition. Per WHYY, “the 26 yes votes in the House are one more than needed to override a veto.”

The post Delaware House Passes Historic Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Delaware House Passes Historic Cannabis Legalization Bill

Members of the Delaware state House on Thursday passed legislation that would eliminate all penalties for adults aged 21 and older having up to an ounce of weed in their possession, a move that local media is describing as “a historic first step” toward cannabis legalization in the state.

Lawmakers in the chamber passed the bill early in the evening “with a vote of 26-14, which included bipartisan support from Republican Representatives Michael Smith of Pike Creek and Jeffrey Spiegelman of Clayton,” according to the Delaware News Journal.

The bill’s passage on Thursday comes nearly two months after a separate legalization measure failed to make it out of the Delaware House, where Democrats hold the majority. 

Lawmakers in the House voted for that bill 23-14, but as the Associated Press noted at the time, “it required a three-fifths majority of 25 votes.”

That bill would have legalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults aged 21 and older, and would have established a state-regulated cannabis industry. 

After the bill fell short in March, lawmakers went back to the drawing board and decided to separate the main components of the bill—the legalization of possession and the creation of a market—into two separate pieces of legislation. 

As the Delaware News Journal reported, “there are some early signs that [splitting the measures into two bills] could be a successful approach.” 

According to Delaware public radio station WHYY, the bill dealing with cannabis regulation and taxes “has cleared a House committee but no vote has been scheduled yet,” although the station indicated that the vote “is expected in the coming weeks.”

The bill pertaining to possession now heads to the state Senate, where Democrats also hold the majority. 

According to WHYY, “Representative Ed Osienski, the lead House sponsor, predicts the bill will pass the Senate.” 

Osienski was also the sponsor of the larger cannabis bill, HB 305, that failed to make it out of the House earlier this session, which prompted him to split the measure into two.

“HB 305 had the whole regulatory system in there for the industry of cultivating, manufacturing, and selling marijuana in the state of Delaware and it had a tax on it, which meant it would require 25 [votes], which is a hard threshold to meet,” Osienski said last month. “I figured, at least we can move forward with legalization with a simple majority of 21. I do have 21 House co-sponsors on the bill, so I think I’m pretty fairly confident that, unless something dramatically changes, that will pass and end prohibition.”

But even if either of the bills make it out of the legislature, there is no guarantee that they will be signed into law.

The state’s Democratic governor, John Carney, has made it clear previously that he is no fan of cannabis legalization.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Carney told Delaware Public Media last year. 

“If you talk to the parents of some of these folks that have overdosed and passed away they don’t think it’s a good idea because they remember the trajectory of their own sons and daughters,” he continued. “And I’m not suggesting that that’s always a gateway for all that, but if you talk to those Attack Addiction advocates they don’t think it’s a very good idea.”

“As I look at other states that have it, it just doesn’t seem to me to be a very positive thing from the strength of the community, of the economy in their states,” Carney said. “Is it the worst thing in the world? No, of course not.”

The cannabis possession bill that passed the House on Thursday might have enough support to overcome Carney’s opposition. Per WHYY, “the 26 yes votes in the House are one more than needed to override a veto.”

The post Delaware House Passes Historic Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Delaware Lawmakers Revive Pot Legalization Effort

Delaware lawmakers have launched a new drive to legalize cannabis with the approval of two separate bills in legislative committees on Wednesday. A more comprehensive proposal to legalize pot for adult use and regulate commercial cannabis operations failed to gain approval in the Delaware House of Representatives last month.

The first measure released from committee this week, House Bill 371, would legalize personal possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults. Representative Ed Osienski, the sponsor of the legislation, explained to Delaware Public Media that the bill “legalizes the personal possession of an ounce or less, but it still is illegal to be under 21 in possession, possessing over an ounce, and it’s still illegal to drive impaired.” He noted it would also still be against the law to smoke cannabis in public.

Osienski believes that separating legalizing possession from regulating and taxing commercial cannabis will make HB 371 easier to pass than the comprehensive measure, House Bill 305, that failed to reach the three-fifths majority required because it contains new tax provisions. Without such measures, HB 371 needs only a simple majority to pass. The bill was approved by the House Health and Human Development Committee on Wednesday.

“HB 305 had the whole regulatory system in there for the industry of cultivating, manufacturing, and selling marijuana in the state of Delaware and it had a tax on it, which meant it would require 25 [votes], which is a hard threshold to meet,” Osienski told WDEL. “I figured, at least we can move forward with legalization with a simple majority of 21. I do have 21 House co-sponsors on the bill, so I think I’m pretty fairly confident that, unless something dramatically changes, that will pass and end prohibition.”

Separate Bill To Regulate Cannabis Commerce

A separate measure from Osienski, House Bill 372, was approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The bill would regulate commercial cannabis production and sales, authorizing 30 retail licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses, 60 cultivation licenses and 5 testing licenses to be issued within 16 months of the bill’s effective date. The bill also levies a 15% tax on retail cannabis sales.

Representative Paul Baumbach voted in favor of HB 372. He said the bill has significant changes compared to the legislation that failed in March.

“This is a different bill than what we looked at last month,” said Baumbach. “This says when marijuana is legal in Delaware do we want it taxed and regulated? I think that everyone in my world and I know this is not the real world. I think everyone would want to have it taxed and regulated.”

Representative Mike Ramone voted against releasing HB 372 from the committee. He said that the bill includes too much government involvement in the cannabis industry.

“I would like to see a different format of that maybe even a digestion from process that is already there whether it’s through the smoke shops or the liquor stores or even a blend. I just think we’re doing an awful lot,” said Ramone. “I also do not like the fact of taxing them. I think that keeps the black market more active.”

Osienski says that separating the possession issue from regulation will make decriminalizing cannabis easier to pass. Once it has, he hopes that regulating commerce will become more palatable to those who currently oppose the idea.

“I’m hoping I won’t need their vote on legalization, but if they will then vote for regulation, we can possibly get both of these bills through,” said Osienski. “That’s my goal, and always was—that’s why I ran with the single bill that did both.”

“If, for some reason, regulation does not pass, I’ll come back next year and continue to push for it because I still feel an important aspect of these bills is ending the illegal market eventually,” he added. “So, until we have a regulated framework to allow businesses to grow, the illegal markets are going to continue, and that, to me, is not acceptable. I will keep on fighting to get the regulations and the industry set up, which is going to create jobs.”

The post Delaware Lawmakers Revive Pot Legalization Effort appeared first on High Times.

Delaware House Shoots Down Recreational Legalization Bill

A majority of lawmakers in Delaware’s state House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, but that was still below the threshold necessary for the legislation to advance.

The Associated Press reported that “[m]embers of the Democrat-led chamber voted 23-14 in favor the legislation, but it required a three-fifths majority of 25 votes because it would impose a new tax,” adding that “No Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and four lawmakers, including two Democrats, chose not to vote.”

Despite being a solidly blue state, Delaware –– like its most famous native son, President Joe Biden –– has been slow to embrace legalization.

As reported by the AP, the sponsor of the bill that was defeated on Thursday, Democratic state House Rep. Ed Osienski, noted that “Delaware is the only state in the country with a Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled legislature that has not approved legalization.”

“We’re unique,” Oseinski said.

The state’s governor, John Carney, has long been a vocal opponent of legalizing cannabis.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Carney said last year, arguing that marijuana could exacerbate the state’s opioid crisis.

“If you talk to the parents of some of these folks that have overdosed and passed away they don’t think it’s a good idea because they remember the trajectory of their own sons and daughters,” the governor said. “And I’m not suggesting that that’s always a gateway for all that, but if you talk to those Attack Addiction advocates they don’t think it’s a very good idea.”

“As I look at other states that have it, it just doesn’t seem to me to be a very positive thing from the strength of the community, of the economy in their states,” he added. “Is it the worst thing in the world? No, of course not.”

Osienski’s bill failed to attract support from his GOP colleagues, with one notable objection coming from Republican state House Rep. Mike Smith.

According to the Associated Press, Smith “was the lone GOP member of the Health and Human Development Committee to vote in January to release the bill for consideration by the full House,” and his vote against the bill on Thursday came after Democrats rejected a slew of amendments he had proposed, including one that would have added “felony convictions for violating Delaware’s tax code or Controlled Substance Act to the criteria the state could consider in deciding whether to issue someone a marijuana industry license.”

Smith, as quoted by the AP, blamed Democrats for the bill’s demise.

“I hope people remember this moment, because you killed the legalization of marijuana,” Smith said.

Osienski called Smith’s 11th-hour amendments “disingenuous.”

“I’ve been working with Republicans … and the first time I saw his amendments was today,” he said, as quoted by the AP.

For Oseinski, the setback is nothing new. Last summer, he saw his legalization bill pulled from the House’s agenda mere hours before a vote was scheduled.

Osienski broke it down at the time.

“Part of our effort has been to level the playing field for those most impacted by the failed War on Drugs. However, including our proposed social equity fund would make House Bill 150 a 3/4 majority bill, per the Delaware Constitution,” Osienski said then. “Simply put, we do not have the 31 votes necessary to pass the bill in its current state.”

“However, removing the fund—which would restore the original, attainable 3/5 majority—would create other concerns about our commitment to those communities. My charge at this stage is to find a compromise that all supporters can rally behind. When we reach that compromise, I will bring HB 150 forward for consideration. I am committed to continuing to work with all parties to find a solution that allows Delaware to become the next state to legalize adult recreational marijuana,” he added.

The post Delaware House Shoots Down Recreational Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Delaware House Shoots Down Recreational Legalization Bill

A majority of lawmakers in Delaware’s state House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, but that was still below the threshold necessary for the legislation to advance.

The Associated Press reported that “[m]embers of the Democrat-led chamber voted 23-14 in favor the legislation, but it required a three-fifths majority of 25 votes because it would impose a new tax,” adding that “No Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and four lawmakers, including two Democrats, chose not to vote.”

Despite being a solidly blue state, Delaware –– like its most famous native son, President Joe Biden –– has been slow to embrace legalization.

As reported by the AP, the sponsor of the bill that was defeated on Thursday, Democratic state House Rep. Ed Osienski, noted that “Delaware is the only state in the country with a Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled legislature that has not approved legalization.”

“We’re unique,” Oseinski said.

The state’s governor, John Carney, has long been a vocal opponent of legalizing cannabis.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Carney said last year, arguing that marijuana could exacerbate the state’s opioid crisis.

“If you talk to the parents of some of these folks that have overdosed and passed away they don’t think it’s a good idea because they remember the trajectory of their own sons and daughters,” the governor said. “And I’m not suggesting that that’s always a gateway for all that, but if you talk to those Attack Addiction advocates they don’t think it’s a very good idea.”

“As I look at other states that have it, it just doesn’t seem to me to be a very positive thing from the strength of the community, of the economy in their states,” he added. “Is it the worst thing in the world? No, of course not.”

Osienski’s bill failed to attract support from his GOP colleagues, with one notable objection coming from Republican state House Rep. Mike Smith.

According to the Associated Press, Smith “was the lone GOP member of the Health and Human Development Committee to vote in January to release the bill for consideration by the full House,” and his vote against the bill on Thursday came after Democrats rejected a slew of amendments he had proposed, including one that would have added “felony convictions for violating Delaware’s tax code or Controlled Substance Act to the criteria the state could consider in deciding whether to issue someone a marijuana industry license.”

Smith, as quoted by the AP, blamed Democrats for the bill’s demise.

“I hope people remember this moment, because you killed the legalization of marijuana,” Smith said.

Osienski called Smith’s 11th-hour amendments “disingenuous.”

“I’ve been working with Republicans … and the first time I saw his amendments was today,” he said, as quoted by the AP.

For Oseinski, the setback is nothing new. Last summer, he saw his legalization bill pulled from the House’s agenda mere hours before a vote was scheduled.

Osienski broke it down at the time.

“Part of our effort has been to level the playing field for those most impacted by the failed War on Drugs. However, including our proposed social equity fund would make House Bill 150 a 3/4 majority bill, per the Delaware Constitution,” Osienski said then. “Simply put, we do not have the 31 votes necessary to pass the bill in its current state.”

“However, removing the fund—which would restore the original, attainable 3/5 majority—would create other concerns about our commitment to those communities. My charge at this stage is to find a compromise that all supporters can rally behind. When we reach that compromise, I will bring HB 150 forward for consideration. I am committed to continuing to work with all parties to find a solution that allows Delaware to become the next state to legalize adult recreational marijuana,” he added.

The post Delaware House Shoots Down Recreational Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Friday April 9, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

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Friday, April 9, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

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